Student lands Swans post
Swansea University student William Sparkes has landed his dream job as a sports scientist with Swansea City, looking at the impact on players of playing a competitive game, after a placement with the Swans as part of his studies.
Sparkes will be working as part of the Sports Science team, looking at data from the players, for example GPS information on their speed and distance covered during a game.
His main role will be looking at players' recovery, working out what are the key game characteristics that impact on a player's ability to recover.
Previous research has shown that players can take up to four days to recover fully following a competitive game.
The Swans recently played 7 games in 21 days, with their Europa League fixtures on top of Premier League and cup games.
The results of this study, which will be conducted with the Swans Under-21s squad, will provide a better understanding of how best to manage players' recovery.
Improving recovery, even marginally, can be crucial at the top level of sport, where the differences between competitors are so small.
Sparkes did a degree in sports science at Swansea University, and now as part of his postgraduate studies is taking part in the 'KESS' scheme - Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships.
These schemes enable students to spend time working on placement with a small or medium-sized employer. In Sparkes' case, his placement is with the Swans.
"My placement with Swansea City was part-time over one year," said Sparkes.
"It then led to the opportunity to work with them on my KESS MSc.
"I'm looking at players' recovery after games - areas like muscular fatigue and hormone responses.
"The club already used GPS data, but my work will help them use it more effectively."
And Dr Liam Kilduff, who is a lecturer at Swansea University's Research Centre in Applied Sports, Technology, Exercise and Medicine (A-STEM), believes it is great to once again have a link between the university and the Swans.
He said: "Three of our Sports Science graduates are already working at West Ham, so it's great to re-establish the relationship with the Swans too, and I'm sure it'll be a great experience for William.
"It'll help our other students as well, because we can learn from what the Swans are doing, and use the lessons to help inform our own teaching and curriculum."